One of the umbrella bodies of herdsmen in Nigeria, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, says herders are facing so many challenges from hostile host committees including vigilante groups and other criminal elements who rustle cows in the country.
The group said some displaced herders in the country, who were dispossessed of their cows, end up becoming bandits carrying out several attacks including kidnapping Nigerians.
The spokesman for the group, Saleh Alhassan, spoke on Wednesday while featuring on an Online interview programme, The Roundtable.
Alhassan said it was unfair to label every herder as a criminal, adding that it was sad that herders have been singled out for victimisation.
He said the herders now turned bandits were fighting an economic fight and not an ideological fight.
The spokesman said states banning open grazing and chasing out herders from their domains are creating a crisis best known to them.
Alhassan said, “We (herders) are victims of state terrorism. What is happening now is an organised terrorism against an economic group. All those herders they are raiding in villages, in communities are just victims and it is sad and you expect people that are supposed to lead the way in terms of justice and fairness will just watch these things happening. It doesn’t add up.
“Herdsmen in this country are facing challenges for so many reasons. You have pressures from Boko Haram that have displaced them. You have activities of bandits that have displaced them, they are moving towards the hinterlands and the Southern part of the country. You also have the issues of climate change and other environmental factors and at the same time, you have total neglect; the northern governors have not done what they are supposed to do. If they had maintained those grazing reserves that we had in the north, build a dam, make sure they sensitise the herders, they won’t be in those places they find themselves of recent.
“You also have to take cognisance of the trans-human movement of herders across the ECOWAS states. Most of the herders you have now in the South-West that migrated of recent are either from Benin Republic or Ghana and there are pressures too in those countries and these herders straddle between those axis of Saki, in Oyo to Benin Republic and that has been their internal and external migrating routes.”
Continuing, he said, “If the herders lose their cattle, where do you think they will move to? They don’t have education, they don’t have land, and the business they know right from Adam, you destroy it because you don’t want to accommodate them more so, they are Nigerians.
“So, you now see a rise in jihadists and other extremist groups. It is as simple as that. Today, we have very heavy crisis in the North-West because of the activities of some of those governors. In the recent past, they mounted pressure on some of the herders, they lost their cattle, so now they join bandits, the bandits we are talking about. They are not spirits, they have bodies, they have reasons why they emerge. When you destroy pastoralism, when you destroy grazing, you are going to create another problem because these are Nigerians, they are not going anywhere and if you don’t give them alternatives, you will have a rank of unemployed youths in the country.”